City Spotlight: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

by Cassandra McCullersMarch 9, 2017

Pennsylvania’s largest city has been one of America’s most iconic locations since colonial times, from playing an important role in the development of our country to serving as a center for growth and innovation in modern times. Philadelphia offers a wonderful mix of the past and future, serving as the cultural and economic center of the Delaware Valley region, an area in the Northwestern US of over 7.2 million people. Like many cities in America in the 20th century, Philadelphia had to adjust to a loss of manufacturing companies and jobs, but in the 1990s experienced a surge of revitalization and now serves as a regional hub for education, arts, culture, and history.

Key Facts

  • State: Pennsylvania
  • County: Philadelphia County
  • Founded: 1682
  • Elevation: 39 ft
  • Area (total): 141.6 square miles
    • Area (land): 134.1 sq mi
    • Area (water): 7.5 sq mi
  • Population (2010 census): 1,526,006
    • Population (2015 estimate): 1,567,442
  • Zip codes: 19092, 19093, 19099-19199
  • Area codes: 215 and 267

Attractions and Things to Do

One of the central attractions of Philadelphia is the Independence National Historic Park, which includes the Independence Visitor Center, the Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall, Carpenter’s Hall, and many other sites of interest. These areas offer an interesting glimpse into our country’s most formative years, with exhibits that engage and educate children, teens, and adults of all ages.

The Philadelphia Zoo is the first zoo in the nation, with 42 acres of gorgeous scenery and about 1,300 animals. The zoo is home to a unique travel system linking similar enclosures called Zoo 360, letting many of the zoo’s animals have space to roam and explore as they wish.

Memorial Hall is a National Historic Landmark that offers guided tours and plays host to the Please Touch Museum, an interactive museum aimed at kids ages seven and younger, with eight amazing exhibits, art programs, a collection of 25,000 toys, and music and dance performances.

Benjamin Franklin Parkway is a mile-long street lined with many of the city’s premier art museums, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Rodin Museum, the Barnes Foundation, and the Moore College of Art and Design, as well as a number of picturesque parks. Also on the parkway are the Franklin Institute, an interactive science museum (whose best-loved exhibit is a walk-through of a giant-sized human heart) and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the nation’s oldest natural history museum.
The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts is the oldest art museum and school in the United States, with special rotating exhibits as well as a permanent collection of works by some of the most outstanding contemporary artists in the nation.

The African American Museum of Philadelphia focuses on exploring the role of African Americans in founding the United States in its core exhibit, Audacious Freedom, as well as exploring contemporary issues throughout its other exhibits. The museum offers hands-on activities as well as a number of weekend workshops.

The National Museum of American Jewish History preserves and exhibits the American Jewish experience, presenting the histories of a wide variety of major figures in vivid detail.

The Penn Museum (or the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archeology) is one of the world’s foremost archaeological and anthropological museums, with nearly a million artifacts, including a 15-ton Egyptian sphinx.

The Institute of Contemporary Art is open to the public, with no entrance fee for tickets. The Institute has launched the careers of a number of major contemporary artists, including Andy Warhol, Laurie Anderson, Robert Indiana, and Agnes Martin, among many others.

Independence Seaport Museum relays the history of Philadelphia’s maritime heritage, including an opportunity for visitors to explore two historic naval ships, the submarine Becuna and the cruiser Olympia.

Adventure Aquarium has more than 8,500 animals, including the only Great Hammerhead shark on exhibit in the nation, with educational exhibits, some of them interactive, that are fun for the entire family. The aquarium’s KidZone is a virtual under-the-sea playground meant specifically for kids ages six and under.

Major Industries

Philadelphia has a strong, steadily improving economy, with a variety of industries and economic activity. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2010 Philadelphia’s total gross metropolitan product was $347 billion, making it the United State’s seventh largest metropolitan economy. The city’s economy is projected to continue growing throughout the coming decade, both in absolute size and in ranking.

Philadelphia’s largest sectors are financial services, healthcare and biotechnology, tourism, information technology, manufacturing, oil refining, and food processing. As the center of Pennsylvania’s economic activities, the city hosts the Philadelphia Stock Exchange and a number of the region’s most major companies, including twelve Fortune 500 companies headquartered throughout the greater Delaware Valley, four in the city proper. A total of seven Fortune 1000 companies are headquartered within city limits.

Healthcare serves as the largest employment sector in the city. Philadelphia’s distinguished hospitals place the city at the center of medical research, attracting major pharmaceutical companies and research in biotechnology. The city is also home to the headquarters of a number of medical professional associations.

In 2014, Philadelphia’s major tourist attraction, Independence National Historic Park, attracted 3.6 million visitors alone, while the wider metropolitan area received a total of 39 million visitors throughout 2013. The city has over a hundred museums, mostly focused on art and history.

Interested in moving to the city of brotherly love? Check our homes in Philadelphia, PA!

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About The Author
Cassandra McCullers
Cassandra is a writer with a background in engineering, enjoying the rural life in the Virginian Appalachians. When not working, she enjoys writing fiction, running a blog, camping, working in the garden, and tending to her flock of chickens! In addition to writing, she has a passion for art and graphic design. Her interests include disaster preparedness, homesteading, landscaping, cooking with natural ingredients, history, and animal husbandry.